BY SEÁN P. FEENY
WHILE there may not be as much money around as in recent years Irish language summer colleges in West Donegal are still holding their own.
Enrolment figures are still going strong in the established colleges, while one new college has double its amount of students in its second year.
Manás Ó Luathairí, who runs Coláiste Áráinn Mhoir on Arranmore, said his two summer courses have been booked out since before Christmas.
He said: “We are delighted to be bringing 600 students to the island this summer and, thank God, this has been the case for the past years.
“We tend to get booked up early and a lot of it is thanks to word of mouth and long standing family associations who have stayed loyal to the college.
We have a lot of students from Dublin, but it recent years we have also been delighted to welcome students from places in Donegal, such as Letterkenny and Raphoe.”
In only its second year, two-time GAA All Star Kevin Cassidy’s Colaiste Chu Chulainn in his native Gaoth Dobhair has more than double its enrolment figures.
Colaiste Chu Chulainn’s Aodh Mac Fhionnaighle said after running just a ten-day course last year, they now have both a ten-day and a three-week course for 2013.
“We started with 60 studentson our first course last year. In 2013 there will be 85 on the ten-day course and 70 on the three-week course, which is fantastic.
“The ten-day course which begins next week is booked out, but there are still a number of places left on the three-week course,” he said.
Combining learning Irish language with Gaelic sports, Colaiste Chu Chulainn has some big names confirmed as special guests this year, including Armagh’s Aaron Kernan, former Derry All Star Paddy Bradley, and Donegal stars Patrick McBrearty and the McGee brothers.
Aodh said: “With Kevin’s background he decided two combine his two passions, but the Gaelic sport activities are optional, we also have water sports and lots more on offer.”
Níall Ó Sluain, secretary of Coláiste Bhríde in Rann na Feirste, said things may be down 25 per cent from the ‘boom times’, but the college is still very popular.
“We run three courses during the summer. The first, a two-week course for first and second year students from Northern Ireland, has well over 300 enrolled and begins on June 2.
“Our first three-week course in July is also filling up nicely and within the next few weeks should have between 200 to 250 students and enrolled, the same as last year.
“The final course, which runs at the end of July, beginning of August, tends to fill very late as it’s for the older students, so we are still a bit anxious on that one, but we are still very happy with how popular the courses are,” he said.